Venango County Pennsylvania

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Venango  County  --  A  Brief  History

      Venango County has a rich, colorful history which dates back to the days of the early American settlers. A large number of today's Venango County property owners can trace their land titles back to the original deeds which were granted to their ancestors for military service to their country in the Revolutionary War.
      Franklin was chosen to be the county seat late in the eighteenth century because of its excellent strategic location amongst several trading posts, and forts. Oil City first became a settlement in 1818 when Cornplanter, a Seneca chief, sold the site to William Connelly and William Kinnear.
      The year 1825 ushered in the birth of the industrial age in Venango County as iron ore was discovered in the area. Within the next twenty years, more than two dozen stone blast furnaces shot up throughout the county. Many of them, including Rockland Furnace, below Freedom Falls, Webster Furnace, located on Bear Run in Rockalnd Township, and the Anderson and Oil Creek Furnaces still stand as testimony to one of the industries which transformed the area.
      Venanago County has the prestigous designation as one of the four heritage regions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Steeped in oil history, the Oil Heritage region, the "valley that changed the world" through the discovery of crude oil, is now formally recognized.
      Ambitious plans have been set in motion to reeducate the world on the birthplace of oil and its rich heritage. Bicycling or hiking throughout various locations in the region or visiting the different museums for interpretive understandings of the area when oil was king will be a long remembered visit by those experiencing the Oil Heritage Region.
      On August 28, 1859, the birth of the oil industry took place when Edwin L. Drake drilled the world's first oil well in Titusville. This lone wooden derrick soon led to a booming industry in the mountains of Pennsylvania. In fact, only ten years after Drake's initial discovery, American oil was used around the world.
 
(Excerpted from Venango Economic Development Corporation's Venango County, Pa.)

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VENANGO  COUNTY  TIME  LINE
 
prepared by the Venango County Historical Society

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For thousands of years the only people living in Venango County were the Native Americans, named Indians by the white settlers. Their first homes were in the rocky cliffs which protected them from the rain and snow.

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July 1749
 
The French left Canada and the region of the Great Lakes to claim this part of the country for France. Traveling by boat down the Allegheny River, they found a large rock along the shore below Franklin which contained carvings made by the Native Americans. They buried a lead plate there, which made France's claim to the land. White settlers called the rock, "Indian God Rock."

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1750
 
The first white man to live in Venango County was John Frazier, an English fur trader who built a log cabin in what is now Franklin.

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Summer 1753
 
The French arrived and Frazier left his home. The French Officers lived in that house while they were making plans to build a fort.

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Dec. 4, 1753
 
A young officer in the British Army, George Washington, arrived in Franklin. He saw the French flag flying over Frazier's house. He stopped and camped here and rested his horses before traveling on north. He met the French commander and warned him to leave the region, telling him the land belonged to England. All the land which is now Pennsylvania had been given by the King of England to William Penn so he could establish his colony there.
The French did not listen and started work on their fort, naming it Fort Machault. It was one of several forts which the French built on the frontier and the British and French started to fight in what we know as the French and Indian war. The French ahd made friends with many of the Native Americans and they helped them in the firht against England. The soldiers at the French fort there, helped by the Native Americans, amde many boats down from trees cut from the forest. They planned to take many boats down the river and attack the British at Fort Pitt (now Pittaburgh).

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July 1759
 
But in July 1759 they were losing the war and decided to flee to Canada. They burned their boats and fort here before they left.

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1760
 
The British came to build Fort Venango. They lived there until 1763 when they lost their fort in a battle with the Native Americans. The area returned to the Native Americans while the white men were busy fighting the Revolutionary War in the east. After George Washington and the Colonists won independence from England, money was scarce and soliers were given land in the western part of Pennsylvania to pay for the services during the war.

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1787
 
Soldiers came here from the new American government to build Dort Franklin as a protection for some of the settlers from some of the Native Americans who were still not friendly. It was the main fort on this part of the frontier and settlers came from as far as Meadville if they knew an attack was coming.

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1796
 
Fort Franklin was abandoned and the soldiers moved to the smaller fort called the Garrison at Tenth Street, near Elk. The soldiers stayed until 1803 when they left Franklin and that building was used as ajail for several years.

Venango County is unique in the history of this region in that there were four forts built here by three different nations. West of the mountains and seperated from the earlier settlements in the East, it wasn't believed safe for the white man until after George washington's treaty with Chief Cornplanter of the Seneca Native Americans in 1789.

August 1859
 
Oil Creek, South of titusville, when Col. edwin L. Drake's oil well became a success. Although Seneca Oil had been gathered in small quantities from the top of streams, this was the world's first sucessful well drilled for oil !

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